States lack power to stop health insurance hikes

Campaigns


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Anthem Premium Hike Highlights How Many States Lack the Power
to Protect Consumers From Rising Health Insurance Costs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the House Energy & Commerce Committee prepared to hold its hearing on Anthem Blue Cross’ plan to raise health insurance premiums by as much as 39 percent for some Californians, DeAnn Friedholm, Consumers Union’s campaign director for health care reform, made the following statement:
“The recent announcement by Anthem Blue Cross that it intends to raise premiums sharply underscores how many states are powerless to curb rising health insurance costs and how urgently health care reform is needed.
About half of all states don’t have the regulatory power to keep skyrocketing health insurance premiums in check. In many states, insurers are simply required to file their rate plans with the state but regulators have little or no authority to challenge premium hikes. In California, for example, no state agency has the authority to challenge health insurance rates unless insurers fail to meet minimal medical loss ratio standards. Even in those states that do require rate review, regulators may not have the resources they need to take on powerful insurers.
In the end, that means insurers in many states face little meaningful resistance to premium hikes, leaving countless families to confront the difficult choice of either scaling back on coverage or dropping their insurance altogether.
Health care reform must hold insurers accountable for justifying premiums and regulators must be given the support to carry out this important mandate. We are encouraged that President Obama has made rate review an important component of his health care reform proposal and urge Congress to empower regulators to challenge unreasonable premium increases.”
PLEASE NOTE: Consumers Union can connect reporters with Californians who have been hit hard by the recent Anthem Blue Cross premium hike. For more information, contact Kristina Edmunson at 202-462-6262 or kedmunson@consumer.org or Michael McCauley at 415-902-9537 or mccami@consumer.org
David Butler & Kristina Edmunson – 202-462-6262; Michael McCauley – 415-431-6747, ext 126